To make my grandmother’s special chicken and noodles you must first be fearless.
You gotta clean your hands and enter her kitchen with your sins washed away for she will see them. All of them, saying nothing as she stirs the fine flour into a dusty powder.
You wont need to speak much as her few words carry weight- and will ring in your ears
You must never stop listening as she hums and moves from chipped bowl to bony fingers yielding in her way to form the dusty powder into a perfect ball. And watch with reserved fascination at the expert way she rolls out the dough, telling you not to worry, that first time you make your own. Because honey, she’ll say as she nods her head knowingly at counter she stands at, the dough is forgiving… just keep kneading, and when it gets too big, or little sticky pieces get away from you- you can gather them back into the fold with your gentle, loving fingers.
She will clap her hands and you will watch the sunlight catch her smile.
She’s singing under her breath the songs she sang to my mother as she tucks experts fingers in her apron pockets. From her pockets she will pull a secret, something you wont see, but it is there in her lilting fingers, she’ll hold it almost out for you to touch, she will say, nothing you do for them will ever say better, I love you so much.
She will ask you to test the broth bubbling like a brook in an old silver pot atop the stove where she stood days before she had my mother, resting her hands atop her swollen belly, telling my mother as plain as day, without you my dear, there is no me.
And you will know in that moment as I did when I first had my moment, that you will never forget the feeling, the warmth, the sounds, the scent of her lemon skin, and that pure, perfect love smells like chicken soup and sunshine pouring in through the kitchen window.
Watch her as heavy hips sway with the clock on the stove as she watched patiently, as the minutes tick, waiting as if by instinct for 8 minutes to pass- to drop the roughly cut, fragile noodles, cut wide so you know they’re special, they hold her secrets. The ones she whispers into the pot. The ones you can taste, because know this now, you will never get her recipe quite right, no matter how many times you recreate it in your own kitchen- its not just the love that pours itself out over all the food she’s ever placed in front of you. Its her hope for you. Her worries for you.
She will tell you to serve this with something else, that this dish on its own isn’t quite enough. It was always enough. Please when she says this, tell her as I must remember to tell myself. Its enough, Nanna. You are enough, Nanna.